The Shoe Project


Shoe Story 86: My Shiny Witness

by G.S.M.

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On June 2, 2012, my entire family—except  for my older son—landed in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. At the time, we were expecting to reunite with him in two years’ time. We were a family of six then.

Charlottetown had lovely warm weather that summer, and I’ll never forget looking upon its beautiful lands of red clay for the first time. At the local café, I was so excited that I could hardly place my order with the young woman standing in front of me. After a long journey of almost 23 hours, I couldn’t even feel my exhaustion any more. Eventually, I spoke and asked for a cup of tea. I sat beside the window. I was wearing my shiny silver shoes. I looked at them. I could see a silhouette of myself in the fancy reflective rectangle decorating the top, resembling a small mirror. Looking back, I now wish it could have shown me a glimpse of my future.

The shoes were a gift I bought for myself in Germany. My last trip to Cologne had been a milestone in my life. I had been diagnosed with a kind of bone disease in Iran which caused severe pain in the joints of my hands. I travelled to Cologne to follow a special course of treatment. After a long recovery and being without my family, I  was going to return home. It seemed like a sweet dream. With three days left in Germany, I went to a shoe store selling handmade shoes. These silver, crocodile-skin embossed shoes caught my eyes. These were the shoes that would take me back home.

It is not typical of me or most women I know to talk about myself and my feelings. I remember, in my childhood, my mom holding back tears and remaining silent even when I asked her: “Mom, why are your eyes glassy?” She instilled the qualities of a good wife in me from a young age, one who always takes care of her husband. My husband had studied finance in the United States and wanted our children to study at a decent university in North America. Due to the depressed economy in Iran, he was confronted with very serious financial issues. People’s resentment of the government was rising.

Wanting the best future for our children, we decided to invest our money in their education. We applied for immigration to Canada for the entire family. Our lawyer told us it would take about one year, but the closure of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran prolonged the process to seven years. When it came close to our departure date, the Iranian Passport Office refused to issue a new passport for my second child, Mahdi.  He was past 18 years of age and was to be recruited for mandatory military service. A few days before we left Iran, he travelled to another province to join the army. That was the last time I saw him.

A few months later when I returned from Canada to reunite with my beloved son, I saw him lying unconscious on the hospital bed. He had had a devastating accident which led to his departure from this world. 

I try to pull back my emotions as they whirl up inside me. A wave of nostalgia hits me whenever I recall the past. A lot of could have’s and should have’s surround me at once. I’ll be in constant doubt: “What could have happened if I  had never left him?” I am left in this strange eternity, forever wondering…. 

Today, I am attending the last session of The Shoe Project with its warm and hearty members and the lovely Katherine. I feel like I’m on board a ship sailing around the world, listening to strong and adorable women’s real tales. It is June 2nd again. I am wearing my silver shoes which once accompanied me home from Germany and then immigrated with me to Canada. They have been my shiny witness for several years. As the last meeting of The Shoe Project comes to an end, I realize that I have been a witness to the moving life stories of fourteen fantastic women. Strangely enough, I feel myself in their shoes, their silent witnesses.


Other Shoe Stories from Session 9, Toronto:

76: Lost Shoes of a War

77: The High Heels I Brought to Canada

78: Leaving in Eight Hours

79: Eyewitness: Told by a Pair of Shoes

80: Crocheted Baby Booties

81: Trophy Shoes

82: The Ugly Uggs

83: Life is a Miracle

84: My Hercules Shoes

85: The Neighbour

86: My Shiny Witness


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